Association of Indian Lawyers moves to oust foreign firms from Indian market

March 26, 2010 A group of Indian lawyers have made moves to oust foreign legal firms from the Indian legal services market. Foreign firms are prohibited form having offices in India but have found a variety of ways to work around the ban, according to the Association of Indian Lawyers.

The Association seeks government action against 31 foreign law firms and a legal services outsourcing company for illegally practicing law in India. The firms named in the writ include Shearman & Sterling, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, and White & Case. But the list is far from exhaustive and many major international firms with active India practices were not included.

Edward Bradley, a Singapore-based partner in the India practice of Clifford Chance, says he is confident, all were complying with Indian law: "My impression is it doesn't reflect on what it is international lawyers do,” said Bradley of the writ, though he cautioned that he had yet to study its allegations closely. He noted there is some support in Indian legal circles for blanket restrictions on visiting foreign lawyers. Such views, if more widely adopted, would likely hurt India by driving away foreign investment, he said.

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